SAGT Conference 1: Heading North

It was up to Stirling last Friday, to head for the Scottish Association of Geography Teachers' conference. A long train journey via a stop off at work. Peterborough to Edinburgh, and then a quick change at Waverley to the Stirling train.
After checking in to the hotel, it was into town for a pie and a pint, with the castle temptingly lit up on the hill overlooking the city.

I had finished my presentation on the way up, and it will be shared in due course.

It was on the theme of 'good news Geographies' and trying to teach positive stories to balance the negative ones.

Visual Capitalist

Thanks to Carl Lee for telling me about this site. It's a Canadian site, which shares up to date information in a visual format.
Here's a recent infographic on the rise in electric car ownership for example.

Follow them on Twitter too

Woods Hole - Carbon Cycle resources

Rob Morris has been ever vigilant, even on his holidays, and sent me some ideas from a place he visited recently while travelling in NE USA.
He spent the day at Woods Hole where NOAA have their oceanography scientists working.

Brilliant interactive museums and an aquarium - found this interactive resource about the carbon cycle - wish I had used it last year when teaching it
In fact the whole Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute Website is apparently really good - again, particularly if you are teaching OCR A level Oceans (there is also an Oceans element to the AQA specification as well)
Although Rob wasn't able to get up to the summit last week, the Mount Washington Observatory website is good too apparently. This has good little weather museum including a hurricane simulator - a bit like the earthquake simulator in the shopping centre in Hveragerdi in Iceland which many people will be familiar with.

Ben Flanagan

A new website from cartographer Ben Flanagan is worth making a note of. He has shared some of the work he has been doing recently.


In a foreign field he lay 
Lonely soldier, unknown grave 
On his dying words he prays 
Tell the world of Paschendale

Relive all that he's been through 
Last communion of his soul 
Rust your bullets with his tears 
Let me tell you 'bout his years
Songwriters: Adrian Frederick Smith / Stephen Percy Harris
Paschendale lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

This is a song by Iron Maiden, and one I've always liked.
I'm working on a project at school currently, which is using ESRI's Survey123 to collect stories from the Great War, to collect together links between Old Eleans, parents and teachers with the Great War. I've already shared my own family's connection with the conflict at Paschendale, and we now have over 30 entries onto the map.

There are some amazing stories and images already.
Here's a story about George Cope, for example.

He rarely spoke of the war but told us of his reaction when he saw his sergeant carrying a caged canary into the dugout. He thought it unusual to take a pet to war and the sergeant's words never left him. "Laddie, when you see this little bird fall off its perch, you run. Understand laddie? you run."

Doncaster: fighting back against the online stores

I have recently been exploring the issues surrounding retail health with Year 7, and how local shops and High Streets can fight back against the online retailers and other shopping malls.

Regular readers will (perhaps) remember previous posts on the Mary Portas review, and other local initiatives, including money given to Rotherham Town Centre to attract shoppers away from the bright lights of Meadowhall.
I've mentioned a number of other current retail stories as well in recent blog posts.

This Guardian article by John Harris is very useful. It explores the way that Doncaster has tried to leverage its particular benefits to those who shop in person on its streets.

Doncaster is a town I know very well, having visited many times over the last 50 odd years, with family, passing through, visiting friends who lived there when I was a student and beyond.

There have been many changes to the town centre over the years since I used to go to an excellent record shop in the Arndale Centre.
By the way, if you are visiting Doncaster by train, I recommended visiting Platform 3b, where there is a lovely little pub which serves ales with railway related names.

The Chancellor is apparently set to announce some business rates relief in tomorrow's budget.

Image: Chris Richmond


Penalty is the name of a photography project which has collected hundreds of 'found objects' in the form of footballs. These have been washed up on beaches around the world. Mandy Barker has shared a range of images here.
Here is the rationale for the project, from the website.

The series PENALTY aims to create awareness about the issue of marine pollution by focusing attention on the football as a single plastic object and global symbol that could reach an international audience. The project involved the collaboration with members of the public from around the world after a call via social media for people to collect and post footballs they found in the sea or on the shoreline.

In total 992 marine debris balls were recovered from the world's oceans in just 4 months. 769 footballs and pieces of, with 223 other types of balls were collected from 41 different countries and islands and from 144 different beaches, by 89 members of the public.

The recovered footballs have been incorporated into a series of 4 images, each showing the mass accumulation of footballs within areas of The World, Europe, United Kingdom and a collection made by a single member of the public. The diverse scale of these collections show both one persons determination to portray the problem of ocean debris at an individual level, whilst 89 members of the public around the world helped represent the issue on a global scale.

In addition to the 4 images created, 32 single marine debris footballs were selected from different countries and photographed individually to represent a timeline from their predicted age, estimated by the printed titles and names that appear on each ball. 32 is the number of synthetic leather panels that originally made up the traditional football and also is the number of qualifying teams in the World Cup Finals.

The FIFA World Cup 2014 was the catalyst for the creation of this project to be able to raise awareness during an international sporting event. The series title has a double meaning; PENALTY is a punishment for breaking a rule in the game of football, and in relation to this project, a PENALTY is the price we will all pay if we do not look after our oceans by managing the over consumption of plastic and becoming responsible for its disposal.

OS Puzzle Book

This week saw the publication of the OS Puzzle Book.

This is a great little book, very nicely designed and bound, which has a range of questions, maps, fascinating facts and other exciting cartography related fun to introduce you to places all over the British Isles.

Available from all good bookshops. Would make an excellent Christmas gift for the geographer in your life...

Tour de France 2019

Regular readers will know that I am particularly fond of the Tour de France as a sporting spectacle, and it's one of the highlights of my year. Each year, I look at the route and assess the potential for seeing particular stages, and also see the particular climbs and other memorable moments. Next year's route has a Grand Depart in Brussels, and is described as the highest ever.

The Alpine stages includethe Col d'Izoard, the Col du Galibier, and the Col d'Iseran – the highest paved road in Europe.

Looking forward to it...

IoE CPD session with Margaret Roberts

An option for those teaching want to explore the development of geographical enquiry is to head for the Institute of Education.
@IOE_London are holding two essential geography teacher workshops on key contemporary educational issues in school geography education on 24 November led by Margaret Roberts and David Gardner. 
Book your ticket here - they are FREE....
here are the details of the event.

A unique opportunity for geography teachers, geography education students and geography teacher educators.
University College Institute of Education in association with the Geographical Association invite you to attend 2 essential geography teacher workshops on key contemporary educational issues in school geography education:
1) Using data effectively to develop investigative approaches to teaching and learning at KS4 with Margaret Roberts.
After studying geography at the University of Cambridge, Margaret did the PGCE course at ULIE and chose to do teaching practice at Kidbrooke Comprehensive School. She taught for 12 years at comprehensive schools in London, Leicestershire and Sheffield before working as Lecturer/Senior Lecturer at the University of Sheffield, with responsibility for the geography PGCE course. 
Her research was focused on the implementation of the geography national curriculum. Since retirement, she was employed by the Government of Singapore for six weeks to run workshops on ‘Inquiry’ and has also done CPD work in Hong Kong, the Netherlands as well as in the UK. She has been an external examiner for BA, PGCE and MA courses at various universities.
Her publications include journal articles, chapters in books and two single authored books: Learning through Enquiry (2003) and Geography through Enquiry (2013). She has presented work in lectures and conferences in the UK, Italy, Singapore, Australia, South Africa, South Korea, Finland and the Netherlands and in a debate about Powerful Knowledge with Michael Young (now on YouTube).
2) Ensuring that every pupil makes the best possible progress through KS3 with David Gardner.
David Gardner was a Lecturer In Secondary Initial Teacher Education (geography) at UCL Institute of Education, until August 2018. He also led geography ITT at Goldsmiths and the Open University. David was national geography adviser at QCDA from 2005 to 2011. He was a secondary school teacher for 28 years, and a deputy headteacher. He is a freelance educational consultant, and an active member of the Geographical Association. He was chair of the GA’s Education Group 2011 to 2016. 
In 2015 he edited the GA’s publication Assessing progress in Your Key Stage 3 Geography Curriculum . .He leads CPD for teachers about assessment and curriculum design in geography. He has worked with a number of academy chains to develop a key stage 3 curriculum that plans for pupil progress, with assessment at its heart. 

David has also written guidance on planning for pupil progress using maps for the Ordnance Survey.

David is author of a range of successful geography textbooks. In 2018, he was the lead author and editor of a new Key Stage 3 geography textbook course, published by Hodder Education – Progress in Geography KS3

Critical thinking for achievement - Day 2

The second day of training for expert trainers of the new Critical Thinking for Achievement course, funded by the TLIF (the Teaching and Leadership Innovation Fund) took place two weekends ago in Sheffield. I've previously described the outline to the project, which I'm going to be involved with for the next year or so.

It involves colleagues from the GA and the Association for Science Education, and some consultants, teachers and educators who will form the team helping to reach hundreds of teachers by the end of the project if all goes well. My part in this is to target Cambridgeshire and Fenland, up into Lincolnshire and perhaps West Norfolk as well. Other colleagues will focus on other parts of the country.

Image: Alan Kinder - I'm in there if you look carefully....

Critical thinking is important for many subjects.
I remembered work I'd done before, adapted from Panicology - this is a book which includes a toolkit for being sceptical about what you see in the newspapers.

During the training Jo Coles tweeted out a few questions, and this led to some debate on Twitter about the relationship between Critical Thinking and the curriculum and knowledge.
Michael Fordham gave his perspective on the place of critical thinking within domains.

Jo has since written this blog post here.
It has been published on the Pupil Progress blog.

As she says at the end of the piece.
I would never advocate teaching critical thinking skills, or any skills, as a discrete discipline in isolation. So, ensure you embed these skills within the curriculum you would normally teach, just the same as you would intrinsically develop extended writing skills, SPaG, IT skills, decision-making, source analysis, etc. . The purpose is not to learn a skill, but to develop the ability to acquire more and richer knowledge and to be able to apply this knowledge to new contexts. The purpose, is to empower young people, to enable them to achieve and be successful beyond the exam hall.

And finally, here's a flyer for the courses which provides more information, including how you can sign up to get involved for free.
TLIF Flyer by GeoBlogs on Scribd

GI Learner Poster

We are finalising the final report of our GI Learner project, and this has been a three year project. The poster explaining the project in brief is here. Click for biggery...

Frink: Humans and other animals

Over to UEA a few days ago to see a major exhibition of work by Elisabeth Frink.
My son is studying her work as part of his 'A' levels, but we have always tried to go to all the major art exhibitions in any case.
This is the largest collection of her works that have been assembled for some time, and there are some very impressive works here.
UEA also has a Sculpture park and trail with some Gormleys and others, which are worth seeing alongside the Sainsbury centre collections.

You are Here

That's the title of Nicholas Crane's new book, which I'm looking forward to reading next week.

Pages of the Sea

This event is going to be happening at various locations on the 11th of November.

One of the locations where it will happen is the beach at Brancaster on the North Norfolk Coast.

To mark the centenary of Armistice Day on Sunday 11 November 2018, the public is invited to gather on Brancaster beach at low-tide for an informal, nationwide gesture of remembrance for the men and women who left their home shores during the First World War. 

A large-scale portrait of a casualty from the First World War, still to be announced will be drawn into the sand. In addition, the public will be able to join in by creating silhouettes of people in the sand, remembering the millions of lives lost or changed forever by the conflict. 

Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy has written a poem, which will be read by individuals, families and communities. Copies of the poem will be available at the beach around the UK for those who wish to come together or to offer their own personal contribution. 

The public will be invited to view the sand image taking shape from 1:30pm and will also be able to take part by creating their own images in the sand. At 4pm the poem will be read out as the sun sets on the day. 

We are delighted that free parking will be available for all on this day and we hope that you will join us to mark this significant occasion. 

Please note that drone flying is not permitted anywhere at this location.

Benedict Allen

Started the half term by heading over to Norwich after work, and a swift pint before settling down to hear Benedict Allen talk about his adventures. He took to the stage after this short showreel.

I was interested in his take on exploration. He has always placed himself in the hands of indigenous people, originally because he said he didn't have what it really takes to be an explorer: money.

He described his early expeditions to Papua New Guinea, the Namib desert and the Russian Arctic, and his recent return to Papua to find the people who helped him when he was younger.

He ended with his 'rescue' by the Daily Mail, who probably wanted to keep the Tory party's woes at the time off the front pages.
"For me exploration is not about conquering, it’s not about planting flags, and I know people think I’m some sort of neocolonialist. For me it is not about asserting yourself it is about the opposite. It is about being vulnerable ... to immerse myself. And that means being on a level with the local people and that means not being able to be whisked away whenever you feel like it, because you’re feeling a bit ill."

Benedict said at the end that we are all explorers, and that exploration is in all of our hands. We should unplug and head out somewhere that we'd never been. There were still unexplored parts of the world to be found. I was interested to hear of his return to meet people, and to 'go back' (something which some explorers wouldn't choose to do - the 'been there, done that' mentality) 
He had also done his degree at UEA, and done his fair share of exploring in the Norfolk countryside, and on the coast.

Mr. Bean and the SDGs

Magma or lava

Maybe this image will help you remember :)

Cambridge Literary Festival

This festival runs from 23rd to 25th November 2018, and there are quite a few things of interest to Geographers this year.
There is Richard Sennett in conversation with Iain Sinclair.

More humans now inhabit urban spaces than at any time in history. But what does it really mean to live in a city?
Richard Sennett, one of the world’s leading thinkers about the urban environment, sets out a bold and original vision for the future of cities in his latest book Building and Dwelling. He’ll join us to explore how cities are built, and how people live in them, from ancient Athens to twenty-first-century Shanghai.

Sennett will be in conversation with Iain Sinclair, whose forthcoming Living With Buildings explores the relationship between art, architecture, social planning and health.

There is Lucy Siegle talking about plastic

Enough plastic is thrown away every year to circle the world four times – and at the current rate, pieces of plastic will outnumber fish in the ocean by 2050.

We might have thought that the problem would be solved by corporations and policymakers, but change isn’t happening fast enough. Rather than flailing in despondency, we need to take individual action – and Lucy Siegle wants to give us the tools to make this decisive change. It’s time to turn the tide on plastic; join Lucy to find out how.

In conversation with Rob Cameron, Chief Executive, SustainAbility.
With thanks to Cambridge Carbon Footprint and Transition

And also Melissa Harrison and Horatio Clare in conversation

There’s been an incredible resurgence in nature writing in recent years, with re-wilding, the diminishing of our wildlife vocabulary and species endangerment all hot topics.

This event brings together two great writers and journalists, whose latest books dramatise the special qualities of opposing seasons. Melissa Harrison’s new novel, All Among the Barley, set in the summer of 1933, is a masterful evocation of the rhythms of the natural world and pastoral life. Speaking with her is Horatio Clare, whose The Light in the Dark combines a scintillating portrait of the world of winter with moving personal narrative. Whether you’re a summer or a winter person, there’s something for you here.

Chaired by Tom Gatti, Head of Books and Features at the New Statesman

Holding out for a Hero: SAGT preparations

A couple of weeks to go until the SAGT conference, where I am going to be leading a session called 'Holding out for a Hero'
It's going to be a look at how geography can save the world.
Here's Kate Raworth at the RSA.
Raworth doughnut of justice
We will be referring to the doughnut economics diagram above

Surrey Geography Network Meetings

For those who are teaching in, or within a reasonable distance of Surrey, there are some forthcoming opportunities you may want to explore for staff CPD.
The Heads of Geography meetings for this school year are available to book.

They will take place at Notre Dame School, Cobham KT11 1HA and will begin at 1.30pm and end at 4.30pm.

They will be chaired by Sophie Wilson, secondary geography lecturer at St Mary's University, Twickenham, and hosted by Brendan Conway.

The date and focus for each meeting are as follows:

Tuesday 13th November: ‘Earthquake swarms’ in Surrey and the latest thinking about tectonic hazards, Dr Stephen Hicks - Seismologist at National Oceanography Centre, University of Southampton

Wednesday 13th March, 2019: David Wood – Government Head of Geography: a new government role. The session will outline his new role in the civil service, the new Geospatial Commission and links with geographical education and careers.

Wednesday 26th June, 2019: Integrating GIS into the Geography school curriculum throughout the school from Year 7 up. Rachel Adams, Geography Teacher and former Head of Geography at Wimbledon High School, member of the Geographical Association's post-sixteen Committee and organiser of the talks for sixth form Geographers at the Wimbledon GA Branch, will share her practical experience of how she has used electronic maps and GIS in her Geography department and will share examples of pupil work to illustrate what has been possible.

The total cost to attend the meetings is £160. You can book a place by emailing Katy Gill (

Factfulness: a new project

"a hopeful book about the potential for human progress when we work off facts rather than our inherent biases"
Barack Obama 
Readers of the blog will be aware of the Hans Rosling book 'Factfulness', which was published earlier this year by Sceptre, and has a bright orange cover.
This has been selling very well, and getting favourable reviews from a wide variety of readers, and obviously getting a lot of love from the geography community.
There is a link the Sustainable Development Goals, also known as the Global Goals

As part of my engagement with the book, I am working through the book and identifying areas where the Gapminder resources, including Dollar Street and others, are connected with the Sustainable Development Goals.

There are several other related projects which I am involved in at the moment. 
More to come on those soon...

IPCC Report

Last week was a week when we saw another reminder of the current climate breakdown that is happening being recognised as the most urgent of needs.
On Monday, some UK newspapers had this report on the front page, although most led with two Strictly stars kissing. Remember that as the waters lap around the world's coastal cities, and you trek northwards with your belongings in a shopping trolley...
The IPCC report makes fairly grim reading, but I have been looking through it for some positives, as part of my preparations for a presentation at the Scottish Association of Geography Teachers' Conference in a couple of week's time.

Carbon Brief has produced an excellent infographic which contains details of a range of peer reviewed papers.

More on this to come...

Adobe Creative Cloud

My son has started his 'A' levels, and needs to have access to Photoshop for his 'A' level Photography and Media Studies work.

I have subscribed to the Adobe Creative Cloud for his work. I've got the full suite, so have access to a huge range of creative tools now. They can be seen below.

I'm teaching myself Photoshop, and this is one of my first attempts: an image of Southwold.

One of my aims this year is to learn how to use more of these tools: just having a play with Spark at the moment.

Image copyright: Alan Parkinson - click for biggest

Childhood maps

I liked this...

Teachmeet RGS 2018 edition

It''s time to sign up for the 2018 version of the Teachmeet at the Royal Geographical Society.
The Eventbrite page is open.

A TeachMeet is an informal gathering of like-minded teachers coming together to present to, and learn from one another's classroom practice including practical innovations and personal insights in teaching. Participants volunteer to demonstrate good practice they've delivered over the past year, or discuss a product that enhances classroom practice. TeachMeet events are open to all and do not charge an entry fee. 
Please note that you do not need to be a member of the RGS to attend this free event.

UK Blog Awards 2019

So these are approaching again, and cut off point for nominations is soon.

This blog has been around since 2008, and has over 8200 posts, and has had 5.1 million page views.
If there's something geography, or curriculum related then it's probably been blogged about.

I'll just leave that there...

Thanks to those who have nominated the blog for an award...

DRC and Child labour in mines

A very useful article (one of very many) in the Guardian today exploring the use of child labour to mine cobalt for electronic items.

First Man

Over to Norwich yesterday in the pouring rain to watch 'First Man' on IMAX.

The IMAX moon sequences were excellent, and the IMAX experience was perfect for the film, with plenty of shaking and great sound on the various launch, flight and space sequences.

I was interested in the motivations of astronauts for going into space, and the impact of seeing the world from the new vantage point.
I didn't warm to Ryan Gosling, although Claire Foy was excellent. A good spectacle, and happy to have paid the IMAX premium for the experience.

Factfulness on Audible

Factfulness is now available on Audible. It's not narrated by Hans sadly but Simon Slater does a good job of reading the book in a total of eight hours.

If you are an Amazon Prime customer, you could do what I did: take out a trial membership, use your free credit to download Factfulness, and then cancel your membership (or keep it running)

It's perfect for classroom use as well, as snippets can be played when teaching about particular aspects of the book with students, as we will be from after half term.

The final sections of each chapter, and the final chapter of the book itself are also perfect for teaching about the importance of Critical Thinking. Something I blogged about in the previous post, as part of my new role as an expert trainer for the new Critical Thinking for Achievement offering from the GA and ASE.

Critical Thinking for Achievement - the launch of the project

After teaching yesterday morning, I made the long journey through Fenland to Sheffield for the launch and first training session of the training group for a new project.
The GA has gained funding, along with the ASE (Association for Science Education) from the DfE through the TLIF.

Here's the details from the GA website page.

The Critical thinking for achievement project provides free CPD for primary and secondary teachers of geography and science, to strengthen teachers’ subject knowledge and build confidence and capability in curriculum planning and teaching.

Key features

Key features include:
  • free ‘plan-do-review’ CPD over one school term, available from autumn 2018
  • a focus on knowledge application, critical use of data and construction of evidenced arguments
  • an extension to core training on the use of data in geography and science, including geo-located and fieldwork data
  • CPD tailored to local priorities, delivered through teacher networks
  • support for teachers to apply techniques in their classroom
  • raising standards in geography and science
  • funded by the Department for Education Teaching and Leadership Innovation Fund (TLIF) and run by the Geographical Association in partnership with the Association for Science Education (ASE).

Joining the project

Eligible teachers are those working in schools:
Note – whilst Ofsted 3-4 schools are the main target of the TLIF fund, other schools within Opportunity Areas and Category 5 or 6 Local Area Districts may be eligible as part of a local network. Find out if you or your school might be eligible for this free CPD here.
Contact Julie Beattie ( to register your interest in joining or to enquire about your eligibility.

Benefits of the programme

Teachers joining the programme receive free, local CPD from GA and/or ASE expert trainers, working alongside local network leaders. Each school chooses from a package of quality-assured GA and ASE teaching resources, saving planning time and helping to apply new techniques to the classroom.
The programme improves teacher capability by:
  • building confidence in curriculum planning and critical pedagogies
  • increasing subject knowledge around data, scientific and geographical concepts and language
  • supporting effective teaching of reformed geography and science qualifications and curricula
  • assisting efficient planning through use of practical tools and quality-assured curriculum plans and resources.
It introduces teaching techniques to help pupils:
  • gain the geographical and scientific knowledge and skills needed for success in examinations and further study
  • tackle complex issues more independently and construct evidenced argument through social and natural scientific investigation
  • make adept use of data, use evidence critically
  • appropriate challenge increases engagement with geography and science, generates interest in further study.
Follow this link to download a guide to Critical Thinking as a PDF (some good strategies and ideas for introducing critical thinking into your school

Follow the hashtag #CTforAchievement to find out more information, and ask for more details.

If you teach in Fenland and East Cambridgeshire, I am available to come into your school and do a training session, or series of sessions, and we will also look to host an event at my own school.
I wiill be working as an expert trainer within the East of England.

IAPS - GIS Course

This course may be of interest to some readers of the blog.

IAPS Geography – Geographic Information System (GIS) for Prep Schools which is due to take place on Thursday 29 November 2018 at Abingdon School, Park Road, Abingdon, Oxfordshire OX14 1DE

The aim of this course is to make the purpose of GIS representation clearer for teaching Years 5, 6,7 and 8.  Delegates will discover how simple GIS skills will help prepare pupils moving to senior schools have the relevant skills.  Following an introduction to GIS, there will be practical sessions using the specialised computer room in Abingdon School’s Geography Department. 

Delegates will take away new ideas on how they can use GIS in their geography lessons and how mapping and the use of GIS can enhance their pupils’ geographical knowledge and understanding.

Full programme and map is attached for your information. 

For further details or to book online please visit

Discover the World Education - a new video on Hveragerdi

Discover the World Education have made a whole series of award winning videos and other resources related to Iceland. They also funded the creation of Mission:Explore Iceland some years ago.
Their most recent creation is a video on the small town of Hveragerdi: a place I've been to about six times now, in different weather and different circumstances. It's presented by Simon Ross, who takes us on a walk through the town.

This would be particularly useful for 'A' level Changing Places, but also as a look at settlement location and change.

What completes the package is a very impressive associated set of materials, including lesson plans and powerpoint slides with text and images and some sample questions.

Highly recommended.

The Changing fortunes of the Aral Sea

When I first started teaching back in the 1980s (I know), a key case study for environmental change, and also the management of water resources, was the decline in the Aral Sea. I had an old VHS tape which followed the tale of the sea's shrinking, with details of the canning factories which were closed, and the ships which were left stranded in the desert that consumed the area. Nick Middleton later visited during his 'Going to Extremes' series, which we also used to show (and there is a matching book also)
He visits Voz Island, which is contaminated due to its location where salt has been exposed at the surface as the sea evaporated....

A Global Oneness project resource explores the latest ideas relating to the Aral Sea too, and there are some useful resources here.
Images by Taylor Weidman are used in this resource.

The tourism aspects of the Aral Sea were picked up in a recent Guardian article too, which shows the possible rehabilitation of this environment, which also could be used as a venue for a music festival. This sounds like an interesting opportunity for the region, and moves away from the idea of dark or disaster tourism.
Interesting description of the area though:
Visitors to Moynaq, a forlorn Uzbek town, are usually disaster tourists coming to gawk at the desolation of the apocalyptic landscape, where the carcasses of ships rot on sand once covered by the world’s fourth-largest lake.

You can see the changing Aral in NASA images from the Earthshots website.
A quick check on ESRI StoryMaps library reveals this map too.

Also in the recent (and rather wonderful) William Atkins book on deserts, there are some alternative perspectives on the area, with a fantastic chapter on the Aral Sea, which is really worth reading.
The area could be turning round, and there are hopes that the sea may begin to grow again in the future.

And the Aral Sea came back to TV tonight with its inclusion in Stacy Dooley's Fast Fashion documentary.

Stacey Dooley travels the world to uncover the hidden costs of the addiction to fast fashion. She sees for herself how toxic chemicals released by the garment industry pollute waterways that millions of people rely on. She witnesses the former Aral Sea, once one of the largest bodies of fresh water, now reduced almost entirely to dust.
These are shocking discoveries likely to make you think twice about whether you really need those new clothes.

A lot of people on Twitter were amazed that an entire sea could disappear just to provide cotton. Just ask a geographer if you want to know more...

Benedict Allen: a return to Norfolk

"For me personally, exploration isn't about conquering nature, planting flags or leaving your mark. It's about the opposite: opening yourself up and allowing the place to leave its mark on you..."

I have tickets to see Benedict Allen speaking a week on Friday.

He was in the news earlier in the year when he 'disappeared' on one of his trips, and there were fears for his safety although as he might say, he was never lost because he knew exactly where he was. His connection with the area is that he was a student at UEA, studying Environmental Science.

Details from the show if you were in the area and wanted to come along.

In a brand new show, adventurer-explorer Benedict Allen tells the whole unvarnished truth of his most recent adventure – a solo expedition to Papua New Guinea, during which he filmed his journey to visit a community he had befriended thirty years earlier – when he hit the headlines after failing to turn up for a flight to Hong Kong, prompting his friends and family, and eventually the world media, to become concerned for his wellbeing.

Benedict will recall the highs and lows of this awe-inspiring trip, tell exhilarating tales from his life as an explorer and show never-before-seen material from his travels across the globe.

New Kate Humble book

This has just arrived and looks like being a useful addition to my books on travelling, walking and the great outdoors.
There is also a mindfulness element to the book, with the relevant values of walking more broadly than exercise being flagged up.

The Ice Man

This is a project which developed from the book I wrote some years ago. The book is still available, and it's been interesting to see how the scientific and public interest in Otzi has continued through the last few years.

Vacancy on the SPC

The SPC is the Secondary Phase Committee of the Geographical Association.
This is one of the committees of the GA, and feeds into the Education Group.

More details are here.

I've been involved with the SPC since around 2004, with a break during my time working for the GA, and am currently secretary of the committee.

Contact Paul or Stephen for more information using the e-mails above.

ArcGIS - a new free how-to guide

This free resource can be obtained from TES Resources.

Coral Live: registrations now open

As I blogged about before, the Coral Live event is now open for registrations by schools.

Coming to you all the way from the CARMABI Research Centre on the island of Curaçao in the Caribbean, your class can join in with live investigations, interviews with experts and Ask-Me-Anything sessions. 
To find out more and book your free front row seats to engage with Digital Explorer's latest expedition go to  
An expert will Skype into your classroom.

As always the live links, supporting resources and multimedia are free to teachers and students.

Manchester GA Branch Lecture

A reminder of what looks like being a rather excellent lecture... possibly equalling the one I gave there about eight years ago, which I'm sure they're still talking about...

GI Learner Curriculum report

One of the outputs from the GI Learner project, which included my school as a partner, has been the curriculum report on GI thinking which is linked to below. A very useful document, and one which took a great deal of thought and effort. There are translated versions in all the partner languages, and these can be obtained from the GI Learner website.

The lost River Tyburn

A nice geo-archaeology StoryMap shared by ESRI

New poetry from Rob Hindle

My good friend and poet Rob Hindle is back with a new collection, and this time he has turned his attention to the Great War, as we approach the centenary of the Armistice.
The book is called 'The Grail Roads'
Some details on the poems, with a mention for Edward Thomas are included

I've been in the footsteps of Edward Thomas several times, when heading down to Bedales School for my annual visit.

Via Longbarrow Press.

The ribbon of land that runs through north-west France and into Flanders is always being turned over. Each year, the ploughs of French and Belgian farmers uncover shrapnel, bullets, barbed wire and artillery shells; an ‘iron harvest’ that takes in the jumbled debris of the Hundred Years’ War, the Napoleonic Wars, and, in particular, the First World War.

The Grail Roads digs deep into the cultural strata of these conflicts, and is haunted by their correspondences and echoes, from Agincourt to Arras. The poems reimagine the ‘quest’ of Galahad, Gawain, and other knights of Arthurian legend, displaced from their familiar mythology and recast as British soldiers on the Western Front. As the war turns attritional, the vision of the Grail darkens; one by one, the men are gathered into a dream of ‘a first and final home’ beyond the wrecked landscapes.

The Grail Roads is a story of loss and reclamation, estrangement and fellowship, in which we read the human cost, and human scale, of every journey and battle.

Thought for the Day

By Harry Leslie Smith, via this Guardian piece.

London may become a city shorn of any diversity because extreme wealth will drive all those out but the rich and those who serve them. It would be a great tragedy if London lost its elderly not through the natural passage of time but through the brute ugliness of a one-sided economy. We have to remember that London without old people isn’t a city, it’s just a factory floor, a place where you work and shop, with no history, no past or future, just an endless present tense in pursuit of money.

A reminder of this event in November

I'm very much looking forward to speaking at this event in November. It is being organised by Inside Government.
Here's the Policy Background to the day's event, courtesy of the organisers.

The number of pupils taking the Geography GCSE has increased significantly within the last eight years, from 26% in 2010 to 41% in 2016, following the introduction of the Ebacc. Now the eighth most popular GCSE subject, and the seventh most popular A Level subject, there is increasing focus on the geography curriculum and raising standards of teaching its content.

The new geography specifications were introduced in 2016 to improve the quality of geography teaching and encourage higher uptake. The Geography GCSE underwent a moderation of content, with an emphasis placed on the importance of fieldwork and UK geography. 
The impact of these changes also reach Key Stage 3, with a need to prepare students for entering Key Stage 4 by establishing the foundation for the skills and expectations required at GCSE level. The Geography A Level also underwent revision, with some significant changes.

It is imperative that geography departments deliver outstanding geography teaching, which not only prepares pupils to achieve excellent grades under the new curriculum, but maintains a high level of uptake by instilling a sense of engagement with and passion for the subject.

The onus now falls on geography teachers to ensure that their teaching meets the requirements of the new specifications, by optimising data skills and GIS technology within the curriculum and maximising the potential of fieldwork in order to deliver outstanding geography teaching and learning.

There's a rather fine line-up of speakers, who I am very much looking forward to hearing speak for the first time, or working with again.

I'm going to be visiting a number of areas in my contribution. This will draw on the chapter that I wrote for the two editions of 'Debates in Geography Education', published by Routledge. The chapter discussed the place of technology within the Geography classroom, and beyond. It will also have some inputs from a new edition of a fieldwork book called ‘Fieldwork through Enquiry’ which I am co-writing with John Widdowson.
Thanks to Professor Shailey Minocha from the Open University who I worked with on a VR research project which was reported in various journals. She is providing me with some of the latest thinking on the value of Virtual reality in Geography.

Some of the other confirmed speakers include:

Alan Kinder – Chief Executive of the Geographical Association

Steve Brace – Head of Education and Outdoor Learning at the Royal Geographical Society

Paul Turner – Head of Geography at Bedales School

Shelley Monk – OCR Geography subject specialist

Along with the other speakers, some of whom are still to be confirmed, the intention is to explore what can be done in the short, medium and long term and also to provide resources and tools which can be used straight away, as well as providing areas to explore further as time permits. I will be mentioning some of the latest resources that I have been working on. I’m looking forward to seeing Paul Turner speak about the Bedales Assessed Courses (BACs) they offer instead of GCSE Geography. As the External moderator for these courses I have the privilege of seeing the student work that results from these courses, and have helped feed into the way that the curriculum has been developed by Paul and his colleague Jackie.

The booking form is here